First Reviews of the Amazon Kindle Fire Seem Misguided

On November 14th, 2011, one day before its scheduled debut, PC World and Engadget reviewed the Amazon Kindle Fire. To me, these reviews missed the consumer group that Amazon is targeting, and the main point of the Kindle Fire’s creation: a tablet that the masses can afford. However, while the unit has a solid feel and its price point makes it one of the least expensive tablets on the market, the reviews mainly focus on all the negatives, offering nothing but complaints and criticism.

I can only suggest that they were trying to compare the Amazon Kindle Fire to other tablets, especially the Apple iPad, which is completely ludicrous. Even to say that the Amazon Kindle Fire looks and feels like a BlackBerry PlayBook is like making a comparison between a Honda and a Mercedes. So, in my opinion, the reviewers misguidedly chose to forget that you can’t compare the Amazon Kindle Fire that is selling for $199 to any other tablet when there is no other one, at that price, available on the market.

First Reviews of the Amazon Kindle Fire Seem MisguidedThe consumer, and the reviewer, must remember that when you pay $199 for a tablet computer, you are getting what you pay for — no more and no less. Admittedly, there is no camera, no micro SD slot, only 8 GB storage on board, no HDMI, only 512 MB of memory, and it lacks the bells and whistles of the models starting at $499. This is exactly what Amazon had to do to get the price down and give the masses what they have been asking for, plain and simple.

I know that when I bought my Samsung smart phone, priced at $149 (which uses the Straight Talk network), I did not expect the phone to be an Apple iPhone. When I bought my Nissan Rogue, I did not have any misconceptions about what I was buying and I did not expect a Lexus; accordingly, I had no expectations when I bought my Toshiba laptop PC that it would be comparable to a MacBook Pro. So what do I expect from the Amazon Kindle Fire when it arrives this Thursday?

I expect a reliable tablet with satisfactory performance. No more. No less.

What do you expect?

Comments welcome.

PS Amazon notified me that my Amazon Kindle Fire will be arriving on Wednesday November 16, 2011.

Article Written by

I have been writing for LockerGnome since relocating to Missouri seven years ago, where I continue to be a technology enthusiast who enjoys playing with the newest and latest gadgets.

  • Tim Stevens

    Hi Ron, just saw this posted by Chris on his twitter stream. I have to say, I take issue with the notion that the Engadget review is “nothing but complaints and criticism.”

    Here’s the first para of my conclusion:”The Kindle Fire is quite an achievement at $200. It’s a perfectly usable tablet that feels good in the hand and has a respectably good looking display up front. Yes, power users will find themselves a little frustrated with what they can and can’t do on the thing without access to the Android Market but, in these carefree days of cloud-based apps ruling the world, increasingly all you need is a good browser. That the Fire has.”

    I conclude by saying the tablet is “great value.” For $200 it is a great device, and I think a lot of people will be very happy with it.

    As to the tablet comparisons, we do that with every device. That’s nothing new. We need to show consumers where a given product slots in, even if the price disparity of the things we’re comparing is wide. I went out of my way to make sure that I never lost sight of that cost comparison and the relative value of this tablet vs. others. For example, saying:

    “ Other, bigger tablets do it better — usually at two or three times the cost.”

    Anyhow, thanks for reading and hope you don’t mind my responding.

    -tim

    • Chris Hatch

      “As to the tablet comparisons, we do that with every device.”

      Translation: We always compare things to Apple devices because that’s all we give good reviews for, and needed to trash talk the other devices.

      I really do have to question your motives to only comparing the tablet to the high-end devices… don’t really care if you “take issues” with that, but Engadget’s reviews are well known for being scewed towards Apple’s favor (again, don’t care if you “take issue” with that comment, won’t change my views on it one bit).

      Common sense to compare it to other devices in the same range as well.

      • Tim Stevens

        Ahh, the ‘ol Apple bias accusations. 

        Anyhow, I’d invite you to take a gander at the “Competition” section of my review. You’ll note that the iPad isn’t mentioned there. The Nook Tablet is, however, which is the closest thing to direct competition the Fire has at the moment.

        • Chris Hatch

          The only reason the Apple bias accusations are so old is because the bias itself has been going on so long.

        • Chris Hatch

          The only reason the Apple bias accusations are so old is because the bias itself has been going on so long.

          • Tim Stevens

            I can’t speak for my predecessors, but there has been no Apple bias under my watch.

          • DeHerder

            As a long time reader that was banned for calling out DaHarder’s trolling…which made me even more of a reader as no more ability to comment…I have to say there is no apple bias

          • DeHerder

            As a long time reader that was banned for calling out DaHarder’s trolling…which made me even more of a reader as no more ability to comment…I have to say there is no apple bias

          • Tim Stevens

            I can’t speak for my predecessors, but there has been no Apple bias under my watch.

          • DeHerder

            The bias is toward build quality, aesthetic appeal, and performance….

            apple is biased towards by proxy, it’s not their fault they make quality products

          • DeHerder

            The bias is toward build quality, aesthetic appeal, and performance….

            apple is biased towards by proxy, it’s not their fault they make quality products

      • Tim Stevens

        Ahh, the ‘ol Apple bias accusations. 

        Anyhow, I’d invite you to take a gander at the “Competition” section of my review. You’ll note that the iPad isn’t mentioned there. The Nook Tablet is, however, which is the closest thing to direct competition the Fire has at the moment.

    • Chris Hatch

      “As to the tablet comparisons, we do that with every device.”

      Translation: We always compare things to Apple devices because that’s all we give good reviews for, and needed to trash talk the other devices.

      I really do have to question your motives to only comparing the tablet to the high-end devices… don’t really care if you “take issues” with that, but Engadget’s reviews are well known for being scewed towards Apple’s favor (again, don’t care if you “take issue” with that comment, won’t change my views on it one bit).

      Common sense to compare it to other devices in the same range as well.

    • Anonymous

      Hello Tim, Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I don’t mind you stopping by at all. This is going to be a new learning experience for all of us. The Fire I ordered arrives tomorrow and if after giving it a week of use I find it lacking in anyway, I will be the first to admit I was wrong and will be returning it. :-) 

      • Tim Stevens

        I don’t think you’ll have any reason to. For the cost it’s a great tablet, and I’m sure with updates over the next 6 months it’ll only get better. It’s a smart purchase.

        My only fear is that Amazon pulls the plug on support early like it did on the first generation Kindle. But, even then, I don’t regret my purchase there for a bit. I spent many, many hours reading on that thing before replacing it with a 3rd gen model.

      • Tim Stevens

        I don’t think you’ll have any reason to. For the cost it’s a great tablet, and I’m sure with updates over the next 6 months it’ll only get better. It’s a smart purchase.

        My only fear is that Amazon pulls the plug on support early like it did on the first generation Kindle. But, even then, I don’t regret my purchase there for a bit. I spent many, many hours reading on that thing before replacing it with a 3rd gen model.

    • Anonymous

      Hello Tim, Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I don’t mind you stopping by at all. This is going to be a new learning experience for all of us. The Fire I ordered arrives tomorrow and if after giving it a week of use I find it lacking in anyway, I will be the first to admit I was wrong and will be returning it. :-) 

    • http://twitter.com/helpitcrashed Chris Moore HICA!

      Apart from your conclusion your review on Engadget does read like a list of complaints and seems very critical rather than objective.  It was judged more as a tablet than an interface to the Amazon ecosystem which is what the device truly is.  I think this time your style lead the review down the wrong path and your conclusion was missed by many after reading through what was a long list of shortcomings and complaints.  I think your focus on the tablet comparison was wrong and the only comparison to iPad should really have been towards the comparison of content consumption.

      • Tim Stevens

        Sorry, but it is a tablet, and it’s my job to point out the good and the bad. Ultimately the Fire has many, many small annoyances — and I can’t exactly point out the MSRP every paragraph :) 

      • Tim Stevens

        Sorry, but it is a tablet, and it’s my job to point out the good and the bad. Ultimately the Fire has many, many small annoyances — and I can’t exactly point out the MSRP every paragraph :) 

        • http://twitter.com/helpitcrashed Chris Moore HICA!

          Ultimately it is a tablet yes BUT from a consumer point of view it has one of the best out of the box experiences by far.  It is pre-registered to you, updates automatically out of the box and simply puts you right in the middle of Prime – ready to consume.  Easy to use and from a hardware standpoint adequate for the target market.

          My comments relating to your review are more in the tone of the review than anything else, it just read like a laundry list of complaints – just poor style or approach on this particular review – not something I would normally expect from you and your writing.

          Price is not everything, user experience is and I think Amazon did well on that front.

        • http://twitter.com/helpitcrashed Chris Moore HICA!

          Ultimately it is a tablet yes BUT from a consumer point of view it has one of the best out of the box experiences by far.  It is pre-registered to you, updates automatically out of the box and simply puts you right in the middle of Prime – ready to consume.  Easy to use and from a hardware standpoint adequate for the target market.

          My comments relating to your review are more in the tone of the review than anything else, it just read like a laundry list of complaints – just poor style or approach on this particular review – not something I would normally expect from you and your writing.

          Price is not everything, user experience is and I think Amazon did well on that front.

    • http://twitter.com/helpitcrashed Chris Moore HICA!

      Apart from your conclusion your review on Engadget does read like a list of complaints and seems very critical rather than objective.  It was judged more as a tablet than an interface to the Amazon ecosystem which is what the device truly is.  I think this time your style lead the review down the wrong path and your conclusion was missed by many after reading through what was a long list of shortcomings and complaints.  I think your focus on the tablet comparison was wrong and the only comparison to iPad should really have been towards the comparison of content consumption.

    • Ian Couper

      Tim,  The problem with virtually all the Amazon Fire review articles is that they do not compare apples with apples.

      Take reviews of digital cameras, TVs, washing machines etc etc the best read is when a product is clearly compared within a group of similar products.  The reader can drill into his/her target group and form a purchasing preference.  Such reviews always include an opinion on the benefit (or not) of spending extra dollars or less dollars to consider buying a product from a different group.At one point the Engadget article lists 17 different tablet models. This is excellent for me as a reader/consumer. I honestly had no idea that there was such a wide choice.  However a market sector with 17 products can always be sub-divided into some sort of grouping to make meaningful comparisons and better inform the reader.Regards,Ian Couper

    • Ian Couper

      Tim,  The problem with virtually all the Amazon Fire review articles is that they do not compare apples with apples.

      Take reviews of digital cameras, TVs, washing machines etc etc the best read is when a product is clearly compared within a group of similar products.  The reader can drill into his/her target group and form a purchasing preference.  Such reviews always include an opinion on the benefit (or not) of spending extra dollars or less dollars to consider buying a product from a different group.At one point the Engadget article lists 17 different tablet models. This is excellent for me as a reader/consumer. I honestly had no idea that there was such a wide choice.  However a market sector with 17 products can always be sub-divided into some sort of grouping to make meaningful comparisons and better inform the reader.Regards,Ian Couper

  • Tim Stevens

    Hi Ron, just saw this posted by Chris on his twitter stream. I have to say, I take issue with the notion that the Engadget review is “nothing but complaints and criticism.”

    Here’s the first para of my conclusion:”The Kindle Fire is quite an achievement at $200. It’s a perfectly usable tablet that feels good in the hand and has a respectably good looking display up front. Yes, power users will find themselves a little frustrated with what they can and can’t do on the thing without access to the Android Market but, in these carefree days of cloud-based apps ruling the world, increasingly all you need is a good browser. That the Fire has.”

    I conclude by saying the tablet is “great value.” For $200 it is a great device, and I think a lot of people will be very happy with it.

    As to the tablet comparisons, we do that with every device. That’s nothing new. We need to show consumers where a given product slots in, even if the price disparity of the things we’re comparing is wide. I went out of my way to make sure that I never lost sight of that cost comparison and the relative value of this tablet vs. others. For example, saying:

    “ Other, bigger tablets do it better — usually at two or three times the cost.”

    Anyhow, thanks for reading and hope you don’t mind my responding.

    -tim

  • http://www.dragonblogger.com Justin Germino

    The device is a good target for kids and I would rather spend $199 getting them a Kindle Fire than $169 for a Nintendo 3DS anyday because of the versatility of the Kindle Fire.

  • http://www.dragonblogger.com Justin Germino

    The device is a good target for kids and I would rather spend $199 getting them a Kindle Fire than $169 for a Nintendo 3DS anyday because of the versatility of the Kindle Fire.

  • Mark Welch

    I think the key here is to compare equivalent products; comparing the iPad with the Kindle Fire is like comparing the Kindle Fire with the iPhone.  If I were willing to spend $500, I’d certainly consider an iPad, but I’m not willing to spend $500 on a tablet this year.

    After using an iPhone for several years (with the Kindle app, and without phone service for the past year), I definitely am looking forward to a device with a larger screen. 
    I’ve been considering buying a Kindle Fire or another low-end tablet, and I’ve certainly found several 7-inch alternatives under $250 that include a camera and SD slot, as well as a 10-inch alternative for $339. I need to budget some time to go to Best Buy or Fry’s to actually see and touch devices with 7-inch and 10-inch displays.If I decide to go with a 7-inch device, I’ll probably buy the Kindle Fire.

  • Mark Welch

    I think the key here is to compare equivalent products; comparing the iPad with the Kindle Fire is like comparing the Kindle Fire with the iPhone.  If I were willing to spend $500, I’d certainly consider an iPad, but I’m not willing to spend $500 on a tablet this year.

    After using an iPhone for several years (with the Kindle app, and without phone service for the past year), I definitely am looking forward to a device with a larger screen. 
    I’ve been considering buying a Kindle Fire or another low-end tablet, and I’ve certainly found several 7-inch alternatives under $250 that include a camera and SD slot, as well as a 10-inch alternative for $339. I need to budget some time to go to Best Buy or Fry’s to actually see and touch devices with 7-inch and 10-inch displays.If I decide to go with a 7-inch device, I’ll probably buy the Kindle Fire.

  • http://www.blackfridaycanonpowershot.us/ F0X

    I think, I want more application. But It is OK for read book

  • http://www.blackfridaycanonpowershot.us/ F0X

    I think, I want more application. But It is OK for read book

  • http://twitter.com/lucknowforum lucknowforum

    nice take on those reviewers, i see valid points here, btw it will be interesting to learn how you will use this tablet and for what purpose other than amazing ipad!

  • http://twitter.com/lucknowforum lucknowforum

    nice take on those reviewers, i see valid points here, btw it will be interesting to learn how you will use this tablet and for what purpose other than amazing ipad!

  • http://twitter.com/DanOblak Dan Oblak

    When the netbook class was launched successfully by Asus, and later, Acer – companies that ‘smart people’ would not recommend or sink money into at the time, is was successful not due to magic or because they’d build a better machine than anything else that was out there. They built machines that fit the unserved customers. Remember the old saying, “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM” (which later morphed into Microsoft, Cisco, HP, etc.)? True, no one would castigate an IT staffer for buying a 15″ business-class laptop for $2K — but there are millions of business-class users now getting business-class work done on netbooks now; not because they are a legitimate replacement for ‘real’ laptops, but because they fit where a more expensive (and unwieldy) laptop isn’t the best tool for the job. I’m a huge Apple fan — but when I get asked (all the time) which iOS device I have, I tell them, “I don’t have an iPhone. I have kids.”

    I’m currently carrying an HP mini 210HD (a netbook with an upgraded video card and a 1366×768 screen). $400.  It’s no 11″ MacBook Air (which I would prefer); but I get a lot more done with this than I would without the laptop I can’t afford.

  • http://twitter.com/DanOblak Dan Oblak

    When the netbook class was launched successfully by Asus, and later, Acer – companies that ‘smart people’ would not recommend or sink money into at the time, is was successful not due to magic or because they’d build a better machine than anything else that was out there. They built machines that fit the unserved customers. Remember the old saying, “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM” (which later morphed into Microsoft, Cisco, HP, etc.)? True, no one would castigate an IT staffer for buying a 15″ business-class laptop for $2K — but there are millions of business-class users now getting business-class work done on netbooks now; not because they are a legitimate replacement for ‘real’ laptops, but because they fit where a more expensive (and unwieldy) laptop isn’t the best tool for the job. I’m a huge Apple fan — but when I get asked (all the time) which iOS device I have, I tell them, “I don’t have an iPhone. I have kids.”

    I’m currently carrying an HP mini 210HD (a netbook with an upgraded video card and a 1366×768 screen). $400.  It’s no 11″ MacBook Air (which I would prefer); but I get a lot more done with this than I would without the laptop I can’t afford.

  • http://twitter.com/helpitcrashed Chris Moore HICA!

    Well it has been rooted already!  Teardown also shows it has a Bluetooth chipset onboard.

    Maybe the modders will get that working a-la-Nook Color – lets see what happens now.Sideloading apps is easy enough and you can install Dropbox from the website too which makes this task much easier!!So far, one day in, I am happy with my Kindle Fire.  Only real niggles are:Lack of volume rockerScreen is finger print magnetScreen seems more reflective than mostOtherwise for a content consumption device it is fantastic for the price point.

  • http://twitter.com/helpitcrashed Chris Moore HICA!

    Well it has been rooted already!  Teardown also shows it has a Bluetooth chipset onboard.

    Maybe the modders will get that working a-la-Nook Color – lets see what happens now.Sideloading apps is easy enough and you can install Dropbox from the website too which makes this task much easier!!So far, one day in, I am happy with my Kindle Fire.  Only real niggles are:Lack of volume rockerScreen is finger print magnetScreen seems more reflective than mostOtherwise for a content consumption device it is fantastic for the price point.

  • Ian Couper

    Ron,  You must be congratulated for writing an article with the most common sense by far on the subject of the Kindle Fire.

    This article should be mandatory reading for anyone who has just read the tech articles comparing the iPad and Kindle Fire functionality! Thanks for the article,  Ian PS I am now going to read it again! 

  • http://www.omvnation.com Brian

    oh no you didnt, that “you get what you pay for” idea is made up by the big tablet makers who wants to sell overpriced hardware, there are NO excuse to put a crappy $200 tablet on the market in this time and age.

  • Poppa

    If you want to compare apples to apples compare it to the NOOK Tablet. For only $25 more (or the NOOK Color @ the same price) Comparing features, specs, and user reviews the NOOK seems to win across the board. 

    However, I must admit that my comparisons have been via research only as I have yet to purchase either of these tablets.  I do own a 1st generation Kindle and still enjoy it as a book reader.

  • Me7

    how do you feel now that the “Mercedes” is the same price as your “Honda”?